Tuesday, May 14, 2013

CXLVIII - II Kings Chapters 9 and 10 - Jehu, King of Israel

I mentioned in the last post that Jehu's reign in Israel was significant in the History of the nation.  Although it was indeed significant, Jehu just didn't go quite far enough in setting Israel on the right track to being a true Godly nation.  Jehu is an interesting character study, as we will see that he is a man who truly believes in God and His power, but is not a Godly man.  He just cannot get away from the "Jeroboam Syndrome".  God, through Samual and David gave all future kings everything they needed to know in order to be a GREAT king.  But Jehu doesn't impress me as a student of History and the Law.

To prevent some confusion that might take place early in the study of Jehu:  Jehu's father's name was Jehoshaphat, who was the son of Nimshi.  We have just studied Jehoshaphat, king of Judah.  He was the son of Asa.  Of course these were two different men.  {There were many men named Jehoshaphat, just as there were many named Jehoram in those days.  It is not important that one memorizes all of the names of the kings of Judah and Israel, but I believe it's important that you don't confuse these two Jehoshaphats.  If one was to assume that Jehu was the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, that would mean that both Judah and Israel had kings of the Davidic lineage, which would cause much confusion.}

Chapter 9

Joram was currently the king of Israel.  Ahazia was the king of Judah.  Although Joram was wounded in battle, he was recuperating in Jezreel and his kingship showed no signs of weakening, especially considering that his military was in tact and dedicated to him.  Notwithstanding, the prophet Elisha appointed one of the men from the "company of prophets" to go to Ramoth Gilead and annoint  military officer named Jehu to be king of Israel.  {The men in these company of prophets belonged to a prophetic guild (organization).  These guilds were mainly study groups of men who sought knowledge and wisdom through the study of the Mosaic Law and the History of judges and prophets.  Such organizations of Godly men had been common in Israel since the time of Saul, Israel's first king (I Sam. 10:5).}  In the first verse is the phrase "tuck your cloak into your belt".  This is to be taken literally and figuratively.  KJV uses the common phrase "Gird up your loins", which means to "get ready for action" to meet physical challenges you are to be immediately confronted with.  {All men wore long outer robes, gathered with a belt or sash.  If a man was to fight, or run, or anything physically demanding, he needed to get the long bottom portion of his robe tucked into his belt in order to free his legs.}  When Elisha so instructed this man, he meant that he was to hurry.  This first passage in chapter 9 continues on with Elisha's detailed instructions, even telling him how he is to depart after the anointing of Jehu had taken place.  Vss 4--> The young man of God proceeded to do exactly as Elisha had instructed him.  Note that he insisted on dealing with Jehu in complete privacy.  This must have been an important step.  The young man being told to get out of that city immediately upon the completion of his task tells me that Elisha knew that annointing Jehu to be king could possibly cause an eruption of violence, especially with a man like Joram sitting on Israel's throne.  To add to that probablility of violence, Jehu was instructed to totaly wipe out the house (all descendents) of Ahab and also the house of Jezabel.  Bear in mind that Joram, king of Israel, had many loyalists, among whom were soldiers in Israel's military.

Vss 14-->  Jehu understood his commission and wasted no time getting started.  He immediately gathered an army and went to Jezreel where Joram and Ahaziah were.  When Joram saw Jehu and his army approaching the city he sent out messengers to inquire as to their intent.  Both times the messengers joined Jehu's ranks.  Finaly, both kings, Joram and Ahazia got on their chariots to go find out for themselves the reason for Jehu and his army to be marching on Jezreel.  In verse 22 Joram asked Jehu, "Have you come in peace?".  Jehu's response left no doubt as to his intentions, as he said, "how can there be peace as long as all the witchcraft and idolatry of your mother Jezebel abound?"  Upon hearing this, Joram immediately turned his charriot around and fled.  But Jehu shot him in the back with an arrow, killing Joram instantly.  I must draw your attention at this time to verse 25.  Jehu is speaking with Bidkar, who was Jehu's appointed captain and long-time "comrade in arms".  Jehu told him to take Joram's body and dump it in Naboth's field.  {remember Naboth and his vineyard?  Ahab wanted Naboth's vineyard, so he and Jezebel had Naboth killed so Ahab could get it.}  Jehu then called on Bidkar to remember an event that happened twenty years ago.  They were in Ahab's army.  After Ahab and Jezebel killed Naboth and stole his vineyard, the prophet Elijah foretold of Ahab's family's blood to be spilled onto the vineyard.  Jehu knew that he was an instument in fulfilling God's prophecy.  The Scripture tells that Jehu continues on his obedient rant and also shoots an arrow at Ahazia, king of Judah, fataly wounding him.  So in this short passage, Jehu kills two evil kings in one day (although king Ahazia doesn't die right away).  But Jehu is not finished.  Jezebel still lives.  She is his next target.

Vss 30-37  -  It seems Jezebel was well aware of her fate.  She knew it was her turn and Jehu was coming.  So it says in vs 30 that Jezebel "prettied" herself up with make-up and hairdo to prepare herself for her own death.  {I think the reason for her taking such measures was pure vanity.}  She called Jehu "Zimri, murderer of your master".  {This was a reference to Zimri who had killed the entire house of Baasha.}  Jezebel was painfully aware of Jehu's mission.  Jehu's task with Jezebel turned out to be easy.  All he did was holler up to the window of Jezebel and ask "who is on my side?"  Upon hearing Jehu's question, two of Jezebel's servants threw her out of her own window, killing her and splattering her blood on the outside wall, which was another fulfillment of prophecy.  In the following verses Jehu showed he was willing to give Jezebel a decent burial, but when they went out to get her body to have it buried, they could find only her skull, feet, and hands as the horses of the soldiers trampled Jezebel's body to pieces.  Jehu had begun fulfilling his commission in record speed, but he was not yet finished.

Chapter 10

Verses 1-17  -  Jehu's commission as given by Elisha was to seek and destroy the entire house of Ahab, meaning all of his descendants and any loyalists to him or his family.  The first verse in chapter 10 indicates to me that Ahab knew of Elijah's prophecy and believed it.  Therefore Ahab made arrangements to protect his descendants.  {Nobody wanted their lineage destroyed.  That was very important to all of these people.  Rightfully, they considered this to be all they could leave behind when they died, without which, there would have been no meaning to their lives.}  There were seventy sons of the house of Ahab tucked away in Samaria, protected by loyal servants.  Jehu demanded that the servants kill all of Ahab's male descendants, which they did, and brought their heads to Jehu in baskets.  Jehu at this time starts to flex his muscles a bit and shows signs of enjoying this carnage.  I think you will agree with this assessment as you continue reading in this chapter.  God has used many great men to accomplish His goals, but He has also used some "not-so-good" men, such as Jehu.  But with all of Jehu's shortcomings, he continues to act with resolve.  He does not stop until he has hunted down and killed every blood descendant of Ahab, including all of Ahab's family's loyalists.

Verses 18-35  -  Jehu was not only commissioned to wipe out the house of Ahab, but also to destroy the temples of Baal and its followers.  Jehu was the right man for this job.  All those before him did not possess the resolve that Jehu had.  To purge all Israel of Baal was a mammoth job.  But not too mammoth for a fierce warrior-king like Jehu.  I believe Jehu welcomed all challenges.  You might think I am speaking too highly of this bloodthirsty man named Jehu, and perhaps you are correct, but if anything needed him right now it was Israel.  Baal temples, groves, and high places were everywhere in the entire land of Caanan, which enveloped all of Israel except Judah.  Worshippers of Baal were becoming the citizenry at large.  Baal worship had separated Israel from God and the only way to get them back on the right track was to remove the source.  God selected Jehu for this job because God knew Jehu was capable and willing.  And he was smart.  Vs 18-->  Jehu used deception to gather ALL Baal priests and prophets to their temple.  He lied and told them how dedicated to Baal he was and how he wanted to further advance the cause of Baal in Israel.  He made certain that ONLY Baal officials were left in the temple before he released his soldiers on them to slaughter them and burn them inside the temple itself.  He also destroyed all of the sacred artifacts pertaining to Baal.  He removed the burned rubbish of the Baal temple and made the location a public latrine.

Jehu did well in obeying God in his dealings with Baal, but he backslid into the worship of the Golden Calves at Dan and Bethel.  Notwithstanding, his impact on Israel was tremendous.  And God did not disregard him for his service.  Vss 30-->  God rewarded Jehu's obedience by promising that Jehu's descendants will sit on the throne of Israel for four generations.
Jehu died after serving twenty-eight years as king of Israel.  His son Jehoahaz succeeded him as king.

Next post  -  Joash, King of Judah

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